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Plus-Size Fitness Excerpt from Don't Weight

A Menu for Movement

When I sit down to make my selection from a restaurant menu, I feel so pampered. I can choose anything I want. I don't have to think of what's available. The list is right in front of me. All I have to do is tune in to what I feel like eating, find it on the menu, and order it. Wouldn't it be nice if more of life were that simple?

Wouldn't it be nice if adding movement and fitness were as easy as ordering from a menu? It can be. You can design your own movement menu. Even if you are sedentary, you have more items on your menu than you think.

One of the most important items on the menu is the Stretch and Relax Workout. This is any gentle stretching routine that feels good. You can stretch out in bed, in a chair, and standing. You can use the stretches you will find at the end of any workout video that you like. You may have a favorite set of yoga stretches. You might just tune into your body and move gently as you feel muscles stretch out. Start at the top and work down, focusing on each area. The goal of this workout is to relax both body and mind.

When you are tired, stretching can revitalize (and does not require energy to do.) If your legs and feet hurt, stretching will encourage circulation and make them feel better. If you have problems with your back, your doctor has probably already given you stretches to do to relieve back strain. Do them. Once you have some stretches that you enjoy on your menu, you have a selection available when you want a break from more strenuous exercise. There is almost no reason not to use your Stretch and Relax workout. You can fulfill your commitment to daily movement and rest at the same time.

If you can't walk, get a few videos that show you how to exercise in a chair and on your bed. Start to work out the details necessary for you to get to a pool once a week or so. Talk to a professional who can help with fitness even though you have mobility problems. Remember, the more you move, the more you will be able to move. Unfortunately, the reverse is also true. The less you move, the less you will be able to move. I have never had a client who could not find a way to add more movement to his/her life. You can too.

If you can walk at all, you have a very powerful fitness tool available to you. Even if you have been completely sedentary for years, walking can get you moving again. The key is to start very, very easily and increase slowly. You want to give your body time to get stronger. If you weigh a lot, your weight provides a wonderful fitness tool. You are doing aerobic weight training every time you walk. Tune in to how you feel. Most people expect too much from their bodies at the start. By gradually increasing your abilities, you will make the fastest progress in the long run.

Now, think about your basement, attic, and closets. Do you have any fitness equipment that you purchased in the past and don't use? If you do, welcome to the human race! Some of that equipment may be useful to you now. If it is comfortable, enjoyable and accessible you may want to incorporate it into your movement menu. You may want to experiment with the different items to see if you can use them at this time in your life. Perhaps all you need to do to enjoy your reclining bicycle is to put it in front of the TV instead of in the basement. If you like cycling, but get bored on a stationary bike indoors, try riding outside and enjoy the scenery. Try some problem-solving. Most of all listen to your body. If a piece of equipment is uncomfortable, miserable to do, or inaccessible, you may want to sell it or give it away. If you try something and it does not work for you, you did not fail. It just was not right for you.

Finding enjoyable fitness puts a smile on your face at any age

What about the activities in your daily life? I know when I mow my lawn I get a steady hour-long aerobic workout. What about you? Vacuuming, raking, and sweeping can be a great workout for the butt, thighs, back, and upper body. Just remember to change sides regularly, and to step forward putting weight on the forward leg (without bending your back forward, which could cause back stress.) This is just like doing eight lunges right and eight lunges left. Notice anytime you find yourself breathing heavily during your daily activities. That means you have found an aerobic activity. You can add that to your fitness menu. Do you like line dancing, cycling, hiking, swimming, body surfing, etc.? If it causes you to breathe heavily, it can improve your fitness.

Yes, anything (including sex) that causes
heavy breathing can improve your fitness.

This fitness menu is getting
better all the time!

Many people find that having support and structure when they workout is helpful. If this is true for you there are several ways you can accomplish this. If you are lucky enough to have a size-accepting fitness facility near you, participate in a class once or twice a week. If you cannot find a fitness class at a facility that is respectful of your large body, you can still set up a class for yourself. All you have to do is get one or two friends who would like to join you. You can schedule a regular workout time and use size-friendly workout videos for instruction. Make sure to choose videos that focus getting fit, not on weight loss. (You don't want to criticize your body while you are trying to take care of yourself.) When you all chip in for the cost of the videos, you will be able to afford several different workouts. This will be less expensive than classes elsewhere, and you will have companionship and accountability.

Whether you add movement to your life with friends or on your own, your body will appreciate the effort. Your body functions better and heals faster when you move. Only you can decide what items should be on your fitness menu. It will take some problem-solving and experimentation to find the right combination for you.

Now, how you use your movement menu is very important. When it is time to work out, you can choose anything you want. You don't have to think of what's available; the list is right in front of you. Tune in to how you feel. What do you need? Do you want to be energized, relaxed, or spent? Do you want to feel your power, your flexibility, or your endurance? Just find the movement on the menu that will meet your needs, and enjoy it. You deserve it!

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By Kelly Bliss M.Ed., A.C.E. author of Don’t Weight, Eat Healthy & Get Moving NOW!
Call 610-394-2547, Email kelly@kellybliss.com
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